Washington: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced the creation of a commission to seek solutions to the increase in deaths from addiction to heroin and opiates.
He termed the situation a “total epidemic” and one of the “biggest problems” that the US has at present.
“This is a total epidemic and I think it’s probably, almost un-talked about compared to the severity that we’re witnessing,” Efe news agency quoted Trump as saying.
“We want to help those who have become so badly addicted. Drug abuse has become a crippling problem throughout the US,” Trump added.
Released in February, the latest figures from the US Centres for Disease Control about the increase in overdose deaths are of great concern to many.
Slightly over 38,000 people died in 2010 from drug overdoses, but more than 52,000 died in 2015, of whom at least one-quarter were from heroin consumption, triple the number of deaths from that cause five years earlier.
The group experiencing the most overdose deaths in 2015 were whites between the ages of 45 and 54, according to the CDC statistics.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the commission must focus on prevention and dissuading young people from being attracted to drugs and also helping addicts enter treatment centres and find employment once they have recovered.
As part of his anti-drug strategy, Trump is defending the construction of the controversial wall along the border with Mexico and increasing deportations to expel drug traffickers and criminals.
In a report released in early March, the State Department said that between 90 per cent and 94 per cent of the heroin consumed in the US comes from Mexico.